How Sphere Studios Created the World’s Most Advanced Cinema Camera

Sphere Studios, the company behind the world’s largest LED screen at the MSG Sphere in Las Vegas, has developed a groundbreaking cinema camera system that can capture stunning images for the immersive experience at the venue. The camera, called Big Sky, features a single 316-megapixel HDR image sensor that is capable of shooting 18K resolution at 120 frames per second. In this article, we will take a peek behind the scenes of how Sphere Studios created Big Sky and what it can do.

Big Sky is a custom-made cinema camera system that was designed and built by Sphere Studios in-house. It is not available for sale or rent to other filmmakers or media outlets. It is only used for capturing content for Sphere Studios’ productions and events.

How Sphere Studios Created the World’s Most Advanced Cinema Camera
How Sphere Studios Created the World’s Most Advanced Cinema Camera

Big Sky consists of a large 3-inch x 3-inch sensor that measures 77.5mm x 75.6mm (3.05″ x 2.98″). The sensor has a dual-gain pixel structure that allows it to capture high dynamic range (HDR) images with high contrast and color fidelity. The sensor also has a rolling shutter mechanism that enables it to capture fast-moving scenes without distortion or ghosting.

The sensor is connected to a custom-built data acquisition system that can transfer data at up to 60 gigabytes per second. The data is then processed by Sphere Studios’ proprietary software that can stitch together multiple images from different angles and positions to create a seamless panorama.

Why did Sphere Studios create Big Sky?

Sphere Studios created Big Sky because they wanted to capture stunning video for their world-class immersive display at the MSG Sphere, which features a 580,000 square-foot LED screen that wraps around, over, and behind the audience. The screen has a resolution of over 80 times that of a high-definition television and can display content in various formats such as movies, concerts, sports, games, and more.

To achieve this level of detail and quality, Sphere Studios needed a cinema camera system that could match their vision and expectations. They also needed a camera system that could handle the challenges of shooting in an extreme environment such as Las Vegas, where weather conditions can vary drastically.

Big Sky was designed to meet these requirements by offering unparalleled image fidelity, speed, flexibility, and reliability. It was also designed to be compatible with Sphere Studios’ existing infrastructure and workflow.

How does Big Sky work?

Big Sky works by using its large sensor size and high frame rate capabilities to capture images in an ultra-high resolution format of 18K x 18K (1.78 billion pixels). This means that each image has about four times more pixels than today’s highest resolution cameras such as Sony’s A7S III or Canon’s EOS R5.

By stitching together multiple images from different perspectives using advanced algorithms and techniques, Big Sky can create panoramic views of large areas without losing any detail or quality. For example, one image captured by Big Sky can cover an area equivalent to about four football fields.

Big Sky can also shoot at different frame rates depending on the desired effect or purpose. For instance, it can shoot at up to 120 frames per second (fps) for fast action scenes or slow motion effects. It can also shoot at lower frame rates such as 24 fps or even lower for artistic reasons such as creating grainy or retro-looking images.

Big Sky can also adjust its exposure settings according to the lighting conditions or scene changes using its dual-gain pixel structure. This allows it to capture HDR images with high contrast between bright and dark areas without compromising on dynamic range or color accuracy.

What are some examples of content created with Big Sky?

Big Sky has been used for creating various types of content for Sphere Studios’ productions and events since its debut in June 2023. Some examples are:

  • Postcard From Earth: This is an Oscar-nominated documentary film directed by Darren Aronofsky that explores the impact of climate change on our planet through stunning aerial footage shot with Big Sky.
  • The Show: This is an immersive live show featuring Cirque du Soleil performers who interact with audiences on stage using Big Sky’s technology.
  • The Game: This is an interactive gaming experience where players can control characters on screen using motion controllers connected to Big Sky.
  • The Concert: This is a musical performance featuring artists such as Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Beyoncé, Drake, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Eminem, and more who perform live on stage using Big Sky’s technology.

Sphere Studios’ Big Sky cinema camera system is one of the most advanced cinema camera systems in the world today. It offers unparalleled image quality, speed, flexibility, and reliability for capturing content for their world-class immersive display at the MSG Sphere in Las Vegas. It was created by Sphere Studios in-house using their own research and development capabilities. It is not available

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